Learn more about Welfare Tent, a Freshers' Week initiative which armed students with vital information about drink and drug use.
THE WELFARE TENT
As Student Welfare Officer at UL Student Life, I am excited to share the story of an impactful initiative that we carried out during this year's Freshers Week courtyard gigs – the Welfare Tent! Taking place against a backdrop of excitement and anticipation, the Welfare Tent was manned by myself and Shane from SISC. The tent was strategically set up during these lively events so that we could distribute vital information, resources, and support, and cater to the diverse needs of UL students.
Objective of the Campaign
The goal of the Welfare Tent campaign was clear – to create a safer, more informed environment for our students. While universities thrive as dynamic hubs of social interaction, the intricacies of student drug and alcohol culture are often overlooked or, at times, stigmatised due to a lack of understanding. Some students may find themselves in difficult situations simply because the risks associated with alcohol or drug use are not adequately known or discussed.
Recognising this knowledge gap, our campaign aimed to break the stigma and provide essential information related to alcohol and drug use that would empower students to make the right choice, or at the least, be fully informed about their decision to use drugs or alcohol. By addressing the lack of awareness surrounding these issues, we sought to bridge the gap and equip students with the tools they need to make informed decisions and reduce potential harms.
The Dangers of Drink Spiking
The dangers of drink spiking on nights out were also a central focus. Nightlife is an integral part of the student experience, but it comes with its share of risks. Drink spiking is a serious concern that can jeopardise the safety of students. By raising awareness about this issue, we wanted to equip students with the tools needed to protect themselves and their peers.
Students gathered to engage in conversations, seeking information on harm reduction strategies. Not only was the tent stocked with information but also with other welfare essentials such as condoms, lube, period products, sweets, and rain ponchos.
Spiking Test Strips
An integral part of the campaign was the provision of spiking test strips. In the unfortunate event of a suspected drink spiking incident, students were assured that our on-site medics were ready to assist. This added layer of support not only addressed immediate concerns but also fostered a sense of security among students.
We also implemented a safety protocol that prioritised the wellbeing of students. Anyone being escorted from the event by security had to be cleared by our medics first. This precautionary step ensured that individuals were in a suitable condition to go home, reinforcing our commitment to the safety and welfare of our students.
Over the course of three exciting nights of courtyard gigs, Shane and I had the privilege of engaging with over 356 students. The positive feedback we received was a testament to the impact of the campaign. It was a pleasure to witness students actively participating in discussions, seeking information, and expressing gratitude for the welfare-focused initiative.
While statistics can reflect the success of our engagement, the real triumph lies in the individual stories of students who left the Welfare Tent better informed and more conscious of their well-being. This year's emphasis on student welfare was met with enthusiasm and appreciation, setting a positive tone for future initiatives.
In conclusion, the Welfare Tent was not just a physical presence during Freshers Week; it symbolised a commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our student community. As we reflect on the success of this campaign, it fuels our determination to continue prioritising student welfare at all Student Life events.
And on that note, roll on Charity Week!